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Layoffs clouding the solar industry

A worker cleans an assembled solar panel

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: The U.S. solar industry's enjoyed phenomenal growth the past couple years. But suddenly, things don't look as sunny. Sarah Gardner has more on that from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.


Sarah Gardner: OptiSolar, Evergreen Solar, HelioVolt, SpectraWatt -- hardly household names, but they've all confirmed layoffs, factory closings or construction delays. Ausra, a well-financed solar thermal company in California, has reportedly laid off workers as well.

Rhone Resch leads the industry's main trade group:

Rhone Resch: We are in the midst of a recession, and the solar industry is not immune to the downturn in the economy. And we expect a real heavy downturn in the solar energy industry in 2009.

Solar panelmaker OptiSolar says it laid off nearly half its California workforce after failing to attract enough private financing. A spokesman blamed it on investors' current "aversion to risk."

Analysts say other firms are having trouble getting loans or expanded too quickly. Resch's group is currently lobbying Congress to re-think solar investment tax credits in favor of grants.

I'm Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk.

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